PHOENIX – Starting a new life meant a painful trip back into the old existence for one Valley couple.

Emily Neumann and her then-boyfriend Harley Hays were driving back from San Diego when a fire investigator called to tell them their townhome had burned down.

“It was a really tough five-hour drive home from there,” Neumann said.

The front door was boarded up when they finally made it back to Phoenix around 3 a.m. last Wednesday morning. Emily had no plans of ever going back inside, but Harley couldn’t wait.

“I told her I needed to make sure our valuables were secure,” he said. In reality, Harley had one valuable in mind. “Of course I went right to the ring.”

He’d been planning to propose for months now, and actually hid the ring upstairs right before their trip. The choice of location was lucky, because there isn’t much left in his old hiding place. Miraculously, the ring didn’t have a scratch on it, and the two went to stay at Emily’s parents' house.

“The next day was my birthday,” Emily said with a massive smile on her face. “He got down on one knee and proposed.”

Just the way Harley planned it, once his old plan didn’t seem to make sense anymore.

“Instead of looking back at the fire as a terrible thing we could now look at it and have some positive memories,” he said.

Mission accomplished.

If you want to help Emily and Harley begin replacing some of their belongings lost in the fire, here is a link to donate: